I smoked DMT last month. It was the most terrifying and profound experience of my life.
Yes, the following article details my experience of tripping on a hallucinogenic drug called DMT – but I promise it’s not an obnoxious recount of how silly it made me and my friends act, or anything of that vein.
DMT, short for dimethyltryptamine (pronounced die-meth-ill-trip-ta-mean), is a chemical substance found in an enormous variety of plants. DMT is conjectured to be produced by the pineal gland of mammalian brains.
When smoked, DMT is perhaps the most powerful hallucinogen known to science – a statement about which I was skeptical only until I smoked it.
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I need to pause here. I linked the word “conjectured” above to an article that questions whether the brain’s pineal gland truly produces DMT.
The majority of what’s known about DMT was discovered by Dr. Rick Strassman, and expounded upon by him with clarity in DMT: The Spirit Molecule (not to be confused with the documentary by the same name). Much of that is conjecture. Conjecture reached through careful scientific inferences, but conjecture nonetheless.
For example: Though it has been proven that humans produce natural endogenous DMT, there isn’t any direct scientific evidence that indicates the pineal gland plays a roll in DMT’s biosynthesis. In fact, science has yet to demonstrate that the human brain has anything to do with the production of DMT.
However, studies have shown that other mammalian brains (e.g. lab rats’ brains) produce DMT, so it may be conjectured (given that we know DMT is produced somewhere in the human body) that DMT biosynthesis occurs in human brains as well.
From there, we may conjecture that it originates in our pineal gland because, on the molecular level, DMT is structurally analogous to other neurotransmitters such as serotonin and melatonin, both of which are produced by the pineal gland. (More info here).
I say this for the sake of not having to use the word “conjecture” every other sentence during this article, but also because – as much as I hate to admit it – much of what I’m about to say lacks scientific verification. When it comes down to it, that’s only because DMT is extremely illegal and the government doesn’t want you to know about it. Fuckin’ government, right?
Regardless, given my immense respect for science, I feel implored to make bleedingly clear that this is a recount of my subjective DMT trip. Having said that, part of any subjective experience involves the subject’s beliefs. So just keep in mind that I’m the subject, and I believe some stuff about DMT that isn’t scientifically verified.
You’ll understand in a moment why all this matters.
Part One: The Mysteries of DMT
My initial interest in DMT was sparked by both its powerful nature and its connection to dreaming. Why did our species evolve to produce DMT? We know the purpose of structurally similar neurotransmitters; serotonin regulates our mood, while melatonin regulates our sleep cycle. So what does DMT regulate? What is it about the ability of our brains to excrete such a chemical that made our ancestors more apt in surviving and procreating than those born without it? The same can be asked of dreaming.
We all dream. Which – if you so happen to subscribe to the radical theory of evolution – means that dreaming must contribute some sort of benefit to a species’ ability to survive on Earth. It can’t be coincidental that those pre-homosapien ancestors of ours who dreamt just happened to out-live and out-fuck those who didn’t. In the very least, something about dreaming must fuel our desire to live and fuck, if not our ability. And without DMT, we wouldn’t dream.
There’s a lot of good theories surrounding DMT. I won’t delve into them, but the main hypothesis of Dr. Strassman’s work is that DMT explains the phenomena of near death experience. In other words, that your brain releases a surge of DMT at the (real or perceived) onset of death. Almost as though it’s a necessary component of reaching the afterlife.
I mean, were an afterlife – or spiritual realm – to indeed exist, must there not also exist some sort of physical attribute within us with which we connect to it? Wouldn’t there need to be a real, feasible link between us and the afterlife?
Perhaps this peculiar neurotransmitter we call DMT is that link.
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I should mention, since I’ve said so much about Strassman so far, something about Terence McKenna; he was an active proponent for scientific research into DMT long before Strassman came along. He is probably the sole reason you and I know that DMT exists.
There’s too much to say about McKenna to summarize here. Just make sure to do a Google and/or YouTube search for Terrence McKenna (and Rick Strassman) after this article. And here’s a couple audio recordings of two great DMT related interviews for later.
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The first is a 2006 interview with Joe Rogan (yes, the comedian/UFC announcer) in which he gives an impassioned, almost rambling, description of the DMT experience. It’s quite entertaining:
The second is a recent interview with Rick Strassman that is quite long, but well worth the listen:
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I had been aware of DMT for some time, but was never interested in it enough to read through the endless DMT experience reports scattered around the web, or to research Strassman and his studies. Besides, I’ve always been the kind of drug user who likes to go into the experience with no preconceptions of its effects.
Other than doing research to ensure it wouldn’t kill me or make me [more] insane, Mr. Rogan’s experience was the only one I heard prior to my DMT trip. Upon listening to that YouTube video, I made the decision that if I ever had the opportunity to do DMT – in a safe, friendly environment of course – I would jump at the chance.